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Delegate Bell: GOP Not Doing Enough To Court Millennials

Matt Rourke
AP Images
Washington delegates cheer during the second day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Tuesday, July 19, 2016.

Donald Trump is now the official Republican presidential nominee. Delegates from every state cast their votes during a floor session Tuesday night at the party’s national convention in Cleveland, Ohio. And as Republican leaders, and Trump, look toward the general election in November, the party’s youngest members were gathered to talk about the future of the GOP, and what they can do in order to reach out to other millennials. Washington state delegate Jack Bell says he went to a youth caucus meeting with about 20 other young Republicans.

"The theme of the night was 'Big Government Sucks,'" Bell said.

He says the point of the meeting wasn't to strategize how to turn "hardcore Democrats into Republicans." Instead, Bell says it was more focused on giving support to the millennials who are already in the party.

"Those Republicans ... that are in high schools throughout America, who feel like they don't have a voice because there are many around them that are liberal and they don't want to speak out against their peers; I want them to know that it's okay," he said.

Credit Jack Bell
Jack Bell poses with Marcus Luttrell. The Navy Seal delivered a passionate speech from the podium at the RNC Monday.

Bell says he's always felt confident in sharing his political beliefs, especially since he has grown up in a conservative-leaning home. But the last few days at the convention have left him feeling even more inspired to take a deeper dive into politics.

"The speeches have been what's really influenced me. I know their main goal is to bring people together and have people feel strongly about the party, but they're genuine messages," he said.

Bell pointed to one speech in particular from the mother of one of the victims of the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, which left four people dead.

He says the convention is also giving him a chance to talk one-on-one with delegates from other states, including those from Texas, California and Michigan. But even with those conversations and the moving speeches, Bell says the Republican party isn't doing enough to reach out to people under the age of 25.

"Obviously we're not winning in the 18-to-25 age group; so there's work to be done."

And Bell says that starts with social media, which he says is "dominated" by messaging from Democrats. 

This is part of KPLU's ongoing election series "From the Floor," focused on the Washington delegation at each of the party's national conventions.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.
Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.